We have two readers contributing today. First, Mark Sturtevant sent an email headed “Picture of HUGE INSECTS,” and indeed it was!
Here is a picture of some Cecropia moth larvae that I had raised a few years back. The Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is the largest native moth in North America, with wing spans up to 6 inches. It belongs to the family Saturniidae, which is the family of giant silk moths that include other familiar species (Luna moths, Polyphemus moths, etc.). I am sorry to say I have no pictures of the adults that came from these monster larvae, although I had a lot of the moths flying around the house about 8 months later. I am working to rectify that as I am now raising another batch of cecropias, and am documenting the process with lots of pictures.
Sorry that this picture is a bit out of focus. The cecropia larvae were not happy with being off of their food plant, and they were crawling around frantically. That is a lot of insect weight, btw!
How did I get these? One can purchase eggs and pupae (for cheap) of pretty much anyNorth American species of Saturniids from a person named Bill Oehlke. He maintains a web site here. I have no affiliation there, btw. The site also contains instructions for rearing, food, etc. It is very easy and fun to raise Saturniids, as the food plants for most species are very common. I raise Cecropias from our lilac bush, but they will accept over a dozen other common species of tree or shrub.
And a few photos from Sarah Crews. Sarah’s a biologist, and her notes (indented) reflect what a biologist needs to know about each species!
Columbian ground squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus), the species I mistakenly called a prairie dog last week.
Yoho NP, BC
Desert harvestman (Eurybunus sp.):
Rosy boa and its leg “spurs.” Those “spurs” are actually the vestigial legs of the snake, which, like all snakes, evolved from four-legged “lizardlike” creatures which were not the ancestors of modern lizards. If you dissect them, you’ll see that the spurs have other bones homologous to the leg and pelvic bones of four-footed land creatrues (tetrapods). I’ve put a skeleton at the bottom. This constitutes evidence for evolution, as the spurs are of no use to the snake. Further, in some early fossil snakes you can see that the legs are larger than these spurs, and were almost certainly in the process of disappearing.
Lichanura orcutti – Anza Borrego Desert SP
Photo and caption below from caving.uk.co:
“Legless lizards” are true lizards that have either lost their legs completely or have similar vestigial limbs, but they are not in the same group as snakes, though both descended from four-legged ancestors. In some species the legs are more developed than those of the rosy boa above, but are still clearly useless, and perhaps on the way out. For pictures of legless lizards, go here.
Snake Fly: Order: Raphidoptera: Fam: Raphidiidae, Agulla. sp. – used to be Neuroptera – all the neuropteroids are really cool – esp. the juvenile stages – CA: Lake Co., Kelseyville